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5 Ways to Build a Web 3.0 Talent Community

Cornerstone Editors

Job seekers who want to send a resume and cover letter to Zappos for open positions are in for a surprise. The e-retailer removed job postings from its career page. It’s not that Zappos isn’t hiring — a company with thousands of employees is always recruiting — but it wants to get to know people before there’s a job posting at stake. The career page invites visitors to become "insiders" by signing up and starting conversations with different teams inside Zappos.

The Zappos approach is just one example of a Web 3.0 talent community, a loosely defined buzzword that describes a variety of online communities where companies and individuals come together to talk about areas of similar interest. HR teams are tapping into LinkedIn groups, CRM systems and branded sites to grow organic conversations with people who share interests relevant to the company missions. The goal of these communities is to shift from a short-term, immediate-hire mindset to an evergreen recruiting strategy that values meaningful relationships and shared interests.

For Marvin Smith, talent community strategist at Lockheed Martin, the litmus test for a true talent community (as opposed to a network or pipeline of candidates) is that members can speak to each other—not just read about a company’s culture or receive email alerts for job openings. Smith and his team built Military Connect, a Lockheed Martin-branded talent community that helps service members retain professional knowledge and connect with fellow veterans. He shared with us a few lessons for cultivating communities that last:

5 Steps to Building a Talent Community

1. Build from within: The most important part of building a community is internal support, Smith says. For instance, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson has spearheaded several internal initiatives around diversity and inclusion, and Smith’s team will launch a talent community around these issues in 2015. "If you don’t have that foundation of people that are passionate around that subject or passionate around whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, it won’t work," he says.

2. Think in marketing terms: Marketers use a variety of tools to have two-way conversations with customers, from HubSpot’s inbound marketing platform to innovative customer service approaches to social media interactions. Their goal isn’t much different from HR’s: Engage people by building rapport and brand awareness. Smith says HR should take a cue from the marketing playbook: "If the community is going to last and going to be able to solve problems, be able to get an ROI, then you’re going to have to think more about it in marketing terms than in just hires, because the community is more of a longer-term strategy."

3. Create personas: Just as brands think about their target customers, Smith and his team consider personas for their talent community audience. They built Military Connect to engage three groups: people thinking about leaving the military, people in transition from the military to civilian life, and veterans who’ve made the transition but haven’t found their dream jobs. "Let’s give people information that would help in each of those cases and see if we can solve some of the problems and the challenges that each of those personas are facing," he says. It must be working. About 25 percent of the 2000 community members have applied for jobs.

4. Take your time: The last thing HR managers want to do is launch a community before it’s ready. "We typically start slow, test the community, make sure everything’s right, maybe have a couple thousand people on it and then make revisions and so forth and then go live with it," Smith says. Remember, it’s a long-term strategy and not one that should be devised overnight.

5. Constantly curate: Content keeps a brand top-of-mind, whether or not the company is hiring. Managers should continue to engage talent communities with relevant articles and conversation-starters that make people think about their industry or areas of personal interest. Smith curates 200 different sources every day and he has an internal group of people who comment and share those articles with different people. "It’s an indirect way of staying top-of-mind, bringing value to that group of people, and then when somebody is looking, it’s very natural for them to inquire of Lockheed Martin people, what do you have going?" he says.

So what's next for talent communities? Smith says they'll create more personalized experiences, similar to the relationships that headhunters built with individuals before the Internet boom. "We all have access to the same people, but it's going to be the ones with a relationship that are going to win the day," he says.

Photo: Shutterstock

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Here at Cornerstone, we absolutely love to hear inspiring stories and share them far and wide, especially when they are about talent management! We were recently headline sponsors of the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards. These annual awards, hosted by TALiNT International, celebrate excellence across the RPO, MSP and Talent Solutions marketplace, and recognise the wonderful ways companies are demonstrating exemplary growth, innovation and leadership. For 2020, it was the usual great awards with a bit of a difference. As we know, everything has now moved online – even this year’s Convergence! But this didn’t seem to impact the TIARA Talent Solution Awards at all. Despite not being able to celebrate face-to-face, the event was filled with laughter, engagement, and most of all, lots of fun! This year, we also supported the Best Use of Technology Award as well as the Overall Winner. The winner – triumphing in both categories – could not be more deserving, and so we duly wanted to pass on our huge congratulations to Alexander Mann Solutions! Alexander Mann was awarded the Cornerstone OnDemand Best Use of Technology Award for their brilliant ‘Find Your Fit’ technology solution. The platform offers users personal preferences and assisted future growth through interactive videos, personalised one-to-one calls, and a dedicated platform to match skills with current roles within the organisation. The solution had 1,200 employees enrolling within just six months of implementation and is continuing to improve every day. Find Your Fit helps employees to understand how their organisation functions better, including the areas that are growing the most rapidly. In turn, this helps employees to develop the skills they need in order to take advantage of these developments to enhance not only their personal career progression, but overall business performance. After all, businesses don’t innovate, people do! The judges commended this entry for “the clear way in which an innovative technology solution clearly delivered in results”. The judges also applauded Alexander Mann for demonstrating customer care by really listening to client’s individual challenges and using inventive technology solutions to help design a custom built solution that helps to support the overall internal career options and pathways available to each organisation. The award was accepted virtually by Stephen Gordon, Recruitment Tech Lead at Talent Collective/AMS. In addition to being awarded Best Use of Technology, Alexander Mann was also recognised as this year’s overall winner of the Talent Solutions Awards. Chair of Judges, Jim Richardson highlighted that “the overall winner is based on the organisation that consistently demonstrates excellence and innovation across all of its activities”. Both Peoplescout and Guidant Global were highly commended by the judges for their brilliant work, but ultimately, Alexander Mann took home the award for demonstrating consistently high standards across all areas. Jim Richardson added that although Alexander Mann has the resources to support many initiatives, it has still managed to deliver consistently on large scale and complex global projects. This is a phenomenally impressive achievement that all of us at Cornerstone also wish to say a huge congratulations for! The other winners and nominees from this year’s TIARA Talent Solutions Awards have highlighted more excellent work and brilliant stories across the recruiting sector and HR community. For the full list of winners, check out the TALiNT International’s September/October 2020 edition here.

Blog: Why HR need to lead the agile change journey

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